William Zavala is the educational technologist at The First Academy. Zavala helps to assist and train teachers and students with current and new technologies. He also manages the school’s Student Information System database for all students and employees. Megan Fleming, creative marketing and alumni manager at TFA, said Zavala is hardworking and dedicated, and he served recently as the point person for the school as it rolled out a new MacBook program for students in seventh through 12th grades.
What brought you to your school?
My wife and I both graduated from UCF about 10 years ago and moved to South Florida for her graduate school. We always loved the area of Central Florida and knew we would come back one day. About five years ago, we decided to make the move back, and I applied to all the private schools in the area. The First Academy had the best culture that we were looking for for my place of employment.
What do you love most about your school?
The people! I love helping, serving and teaching everyone around me. I’ve recently moved out of the classroom to help support teachers as an educational technologist. I think in this next step, I’ll be able to impact a larger number of students for the greater good.
What is your motivation?
Knowing that I’m impacting and shaping the next generation of people, workers and citizens. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks, but once you step back and realize the students around you will be living dozens and dozens of years past this school, and you are here to help mold them for their future, it gives you a larger insight to what you truly do.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
At this point, helping students or teachers with a technology problem and watching their anxiety disappear on the spot. Also, helping teachers achieve a new level of confidence in their tools around them has been so awesome to watch.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a little 3-year-old and another one due in October, so my free time has been taken up with finger painting, swimming lessons and watching every season of “Paw Patrol.”
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Lolly Pignato. She was one of the most nurturing and caring individuals I’ve ever met. Even to this day, we have long conversations like I’ve never left her classroom.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
For most of my life, I knew I wanted to be in education. I started fresh out of college with a math education degree and taught middle school to high school. Just recently, I started using my master’s in instructional design and technology to now educate teachers with tools they use in their classroom.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
“Corduroy.” He’s just a super curious bear and lives in a department store. … What’s not to love?
What are your hobbies?
Woodworking has been the latest hobby. Using the math skills to build something has been extremely fulfilling. I’ve made a few tables and benches so far.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
Ham and cheese in a veggie wrap. Snacks were definitely those pecan pinwheels. … I don’t think I ever saw a pecan in them!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas. Definitely seeing your children open presents brings a whole new light to the situation.
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
Matthew Shuler from middle school and on. We were always getting into and out of trouble. He actually just visited me a few weeks ago to let me know he was having his first baby. Congrats to him!
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I played soccer through school and placed No. 1 in my county’s science fair — only because I had the only math-based project from all of the school.